I use Excel and Paint to design most of my quilt patterns (or the back of an envelope, lol), and someone suggested a post a tutorial on here for how to use them. So here it is! For this, I used Excel 2003. 2007 and 2010 work mostly the same, just things are in different spots. I have access to both, so let me know if you have any questions on where to find things. If you donít have Excel and donít want to pay for it, Open Office is a free software that is similar to Microsoft Office, and it has a spreadsheet program. For designing quilts, it works just as well.
First off, open Excel. I resize the cells to squares. Left click between the A and 1. That highlights everything (pic 1). Then left click and hold on the line between the A and B (pic 2). Drag to resize to a square. By clicking between the A and 1 first, youíre adjusting the size on everything. Do the same thing between the 1 and 2. Now you have squares, yay!
If Iím designing without a specific fabric in mind, I highlight the squares I want to be one color. I then click on the paint bucket in the top right and select the color I want. It turns them that color (pic 3). I usually have the squares representing 1Ē or 2Ē. Then I know exactly how many inches I need (donít forget your seam allowance). If you want to see each individual square, highlight the area and click on the border button and click the one that shows all lines filled in (pic 4). For my puzzle quilt, I wanted thicker lines to show the blocks. So I just use the highlight the block and click on the thicker line borders (pic 5).
If I have a specific fabric in mind, first Iíll draw the skeleton diagram without any fabrics. Then I will get the picture from the website and copy it (right click Ė copy). I will then paste it into Excel and move it to its proper spot (pic 6).
If I want to resize the image, I will open up Paint, paste the image into Paint. Then I crop it (much easier on a Windows 7 machine). I click the dashed rectangle and make a rectangle around what I want. I then click Ctrl+C to copy it. I can now paste my cropped image in whatever I want. (pic 7). In pic 7, you can sort of see the highlighted section. When I copy/paste it, I wonít get anything thatís not in the top section.
To draw specific shapes, first add the Drawing Toolbar (youíll only have to do this once). Click on View -> Toolbars -> Drawing (pic 8). The drawing toolbar appears at the bottom (pic 9). You can then select a shape or draw a line by clicking different parts of the toolbar (pic 9 again).
Once you add a shape, you can change its color by right clicking on the shape and clicking format autoshape (pic 10). Select a color you want (pic 11). Right below that is how to change the lines on the shape if you want them darker or dashed. I know Office 2007 and 2010 are much easier to use shapes in here. I donít know how to get specific fabric swatches in the non-rectangle shapes, just colors.
The last few attachments are a few Excel patterns Iíve designed just to give you an idea (help yourself if you like the patterns). The ones that say .ods are the Open Office Spreadsheet program. Mine open fine in Excel. There are a few Wizard of Oz ones where I wanted to use specific fabrics. The puzzle quilt one was a general pattern.
So thatís Excel in a nutshell. Let me know if you have specific questions. I absolutely love Excel and in college got my Excel certification so, at least on 2003, thereís not much I donít know how to do. I have access to 2007 and 2010, if you have questions on those.
Highlighting the entire sheet
Resizing to be square
Changing the cell colors
Editing a picture in Paint, so it fits better into a pattern
Adding thick borders
Pasting fabric into a shape design
Adding the drawing toolbar
Adding shapes and/or lines
Changing the colors and line textures on a shape
Part 2 of changing the colors